Battle Ground picks new superintendent

Candidate from Long Beach chosen by school board's unanimous vote

By Susan Parrish, Columbian Education Reporter

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Mark Hottowe

BATTLE GROUND — Battle Ground has a new superintendent of schools. George Mark Hottowe will begin work July 1.

Hottowe currently is superintendent at Ocean Beach School District in Long Beach. He has held that position since June 2011.

The announcement was made by Monty Anderson, board chair, during a packed school board meeting Monday night.

The crowd responded with a round of applause. The unanimous decision was announced after the board emerged from a closed-door session.

“We had three really solid candidates,” Anderson said.

“This is a solid, solid decision,” said Lynn Hicks, interim deputy superintendent.

The details of Hottowe’s contract are not finalized.

Consultants Mike Boring and Albert Cohen worked with school board members, district administrators, staff and community members for several months to create a pool of qualified applicants.

Hottowe will need to repair cracks in the school community that led to the dumping of his two most immediate predecessors.

The district’s previous superintendent, Shonny Bria, left the district June 30 with two years remaining on her contract. School board members signed a $401,715 separation agreement with Bria and kept the deal secret until four days before her departure. Bria’s annual salary was $154,000, excluding mileage and benefits.

Bria’s predecessor, Leo Beck, also was paid off by the school board with more than a year remaining on his contract.

Since Bria’s departure, Battle Ground has been led by interim Superintendent Duane Rose, a former district administrator. Rose, who previously had retired from the district, was not an applicant for the permanent job.

The other two finalists were from Clark County: Theodore Feller, executive director of secondary education at Evergreen Public Schools; and Mike Stromme, associate superintendent of teaching and learning for Vancouver Public Schools. Stromme was also a finalist for Ridgefield schools chief. The board there picked Nathan McCann, superintendent of a small school district in Arizona.

Hottowe is the only Battle Ground finalist who does not hold a doctoral degree.

The north Clark County district serves more than 13,000 students. It’s the third largest district in the county, trailing Evergreen, with more than 26,000 students and Vancouver, with 22,500 students. Hottowe’s Ocean Beach School District has 975 students.